Fire That Killed 3 Young Children Over Holiday Weekend Ruled Arson: Fire Officials

Three children, all under the age of six, were killed in the blaze

A fire that killed three young children in northwest Indiana over the holiday weekend has been ruled arson, authorities said Tuesday.

The Gary Fire Department confirmed an investigation into the deadly blaze determined it was intentionally set, but the cause of the fire has not yet been released.  

The Lake County Metro Homicide Unit said it is investigating, focusing on the deaths and the circumstances surrounding the fatal fire that also injured the children's mother and a man inside the home. 

Further details on the investigation weren't immediately released. 

The Gary Fire Department said the fire was reported just after 11:30 p.m. Friday at the Oak Knoll Apartments in the 4400 block of West 23rd Court.

Three children, all under the age of six, were killed in the blaze. They were upstairs when the fire broke out.

"It's terrible," said neighbor Diamond Childress. "I just can't get their screams out of my head."

The Lake County Coroner identified the children as 5-year-old Jayden Mitchell and 4-year-old Alaya Pickens. A 2-year-old girl was also killed but her identity had not been released as of Saturday morning.

The children’s mother and a man were both taken to area hospitals. Their conditions were not immediately known.

The fire impacted just one unit in the complex and continued into Christmas Eve before being put out around 1:45 a.m., officials said. Firefighters said slick conditions made it more difficult to fight the blaze.

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